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Wednesday
Apr252018

What are the new rules of the workplace in a post-#MeToo world?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been approximately half a year since the watershed #MeToo movement sparked in Hollywood and spread like wildfire, leaving almost no industry unscathed as hundreds of women came forward with stories of sexual misconduct they have been subjected to in the workplace.

In the aftermath of the new, post-#MeToo reality that has upended offices across the country, Good Morning America spoke to two generations of people in the workplace -- one group in their 20s and one in their 50s -- to hear how things have changed.

"I think we're creating them," Alexis, a young woman in her 20s, said of the new workplace rules. "Our society has made a decision to take off our blinders and re-evaluate what's acceptable in our culture."

"We've had rules that have existed," Alexis added. "But I think we're deciding to make those more clear."

Are compliments still allowed in the workplace?

German, a teacher in his 50s, said sometimes he worries about how compliments that he gives at work can be misconstrued.

At school, German said he saw a fellow teacher and noted her appearance. "I just passed by and said, 'Oh, you look beautiful,' because she looked beautiful," he said. "And then I said, 'Oh, what did I say?'"

German added "you never know anymore" whether his compliment could be misconstrued as offensive.

The younger group was, for the most part, more adamant that comments about one's appearance should not be a part of workplace banter.

"If you comment to my appearance at work, I don't agree with that," Padma, who is in her 20s, said. "Really, any comment you want to give me, I want it related to my work."

"We don't have to talk about our physical appearances or how we think someone looks," Padma added. "There are other ways to relate."

Noemie, also in her 20s, said compliments are acceptable at work as long as they are "friendly" and "never" cross the "line" past friendship.

Robyn, in her 50s, however, said she believes compliments "are one of the things that create rapport."

"Rapport is something that is really important to solidifying and improving human relationships," Robyn added.

When the two groups came together to talk, the generational divide became more apparent.

"Do you really think people should not give compliments?" Robyn said.

Padma said, "If you just meet someone or someone who is a manager or supervisor, I don't think that's appropriate."

Rafael, who is in his 50s, responded, "Sometimes a compliment is just a compliment."

"If somebody says, 'Nice shirt,' I just think I got on a nice shirt," Rafael said.

Joanne Lipman, the author of That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know and Women Need to Tell Them About Working Together, said 20-somethings hold more anger over what they see as unfair.

"Younger people have an anger," Lipman said. "And particularly very young women -- there's an anger there about the injustice."

"They're really focused on not just male versus female," Lipman added. "But they're looking at the double-bind -- the triple-bind -- that women face if they belong to another underrepresented group.

"They're highly focused on that in a way that older people are not."

Do we have to renegotiate how we're all getting along?

Andrew, in his 20s, said that as workplaces acclimatize to the new reality, "there will be tensions" and he believes "we have to go into this with an open mind."

"As times change," Rafael, in his 50s, added, "things change, you have to change."

Alan, also in his 50s, added that it doesn't mean you have to "give up" your "core values."

Robyn chimed in that "change takes work."

"You do not change without work," Robyn said.

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